Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I forgot how hard it was

I really think I am a masochist after all.

Why else would I continually choose difficult--for me--endeavors? The easy? I guess, shrug; it bores me.

Some people out there can just run a few miles and be fine with that.
Not me, I need to run marathons. It isn't easy, ever. I do keep thinking it will get easy but so far it hasn't.

Some people get both their kids potty trained and think: Yeah! No more poop.
Not me, I get a puppy.

I guess I like a challenge.

I must because I generally think of myself as a lazy person. I really want things to be easy. And I even go so far as to think things should be easy but most things are not--for me. (See, life is hard! Dad, you were totally right about the "real world.")

So for things to be easy must not really be what I want in life after all because it seems like I continually choose to do things that-- for me-- are difficult and challenging-- if not fly completely in face of good sense.
I guess maybe masochist is just a fancy word for dumb ass.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading somewhere on the Internet an article about ultramarthoners and the effects of cortisol. The article said that the stress of running 50 miles causes the body to release cortisol and that causes runners to have that runner's high from endorphins. They said it can cause epiphanies --hallucinations even. Well, I didn't need to run 50 miles to have one--an epiphany that is. Maybe I got lucky because it is Lent and even though I am not Catholic I do have a lot of Catholic friends (guilt by association hahaha). And, I did celebrate fat Tuesday last Monday with a bunch of them. We even talked about Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. So maybe all that is why on Thursday's long run--the 2nd day of Lent--I had an epiphany. Or maybe it was just the cortisol.

Oh, here I am with some of my Catholic buddies celebrating fat Tuesday a day early:

So what was my epiphany?

Well to tell the truth, when I was discussing Shrove Tuesday with my friend I remembered a short story I had written. It is set in the forty days of Lent. One of the characters gives up her sanity for Lent, the other finds hers. So on my run on Thursday I was thinking about that story and out of the blue I remembered another story. It was the second story I had ever written. I wrote it almost 14 years ago.

There was a lot I liked about this story. My professor actually said he was jealous of the title and wished he had thought of it. How huge of a compliment is that? Which is also why I will not be blogging about the title since titles are not copyrighted and I'll just have to hope and chalk it up to ethics as to why he won't use it-- or anyone else from my writing class. I did at the time have a boyfriend read it. He liked it too. So much that he adapted it and made a short film based on it for a school project. He swears he gave me credit and that I gave him permission but I don't remember that and I really wasn't too happy about that he used my story-- mostly because I have never seen said film and he was, by that point, an ex boyfriend. Oh well.

At any rate this story has haunted me. It has always had problems that I could never reconcile. I had rewritten it once and tried a second time but just couldn't take it anywhere new. I was at a dead end and set it aside. Not once-- even in graduate school-- have I pulled it out to look at it and try again.

On my run Thursday --after remembering it--I decided to give it another look. When I got home I dug it out of my trunk--the trunk which Ryan has begged for years for me to throw out but I won't. It has "my papers" in it.However, I haven't even opened the trunk since before we were married. It just moves with me and sits in the garage covered in dirt and dust.

So on Friday--Lala this should please you-- I started writing again. And immediately I remembered why I had placed all that aside--the writing, not just the story.

I had forgotten how hard it is for me to create something out of nothing.

The pressure of it. The pressure that I am the only one with the answers is maddening. Can I tell you that since Friday I have googled to no end, gone to my bookshelf and asked people off the wall questions. Why? I am looking for answers. I know that I will not find them in any of those places but nonetheless I look, I search, I ask, and I google.

The problem is that when I started writing I thought I knew. I thought, for the most part, that I knew what was going to happen and that all it would take was some fleshing out and finally I would have that story out of my head. I thought it would be easy.

But it hasn't worked out like that at all. By the third sentence three new characters showed up. I was very surprised by them and at first I thought they were nothing but then in the second paragraph I gave one of them a name that in my heart I knew was too big for her to be just a background character. And once I wrote her? There was no taking her back.

Still, though, I didn't think it was a big deal.I thought I could easily work it in. But then I handed out another name and I realized that this wasn't just one story anymore, it was two. I have only written three pages but already I know so much more.

And it is invading my mind like you wouldn't believe. I dreamed about them--the characters-- the other night and today on my 10 mile run I thought about them the whole time. It has been stressing me out worrying about how I am going to make all this information work in one little short story. And it was then, today, somewhere in that 7th mile that I realized this isn't a short story at all. It is a novel and while they aren't yet written I know what the first two chapters are going to be.

Have I written them yet? No, not yet. I did have to go pick up my kids and play with them today, but tomorrow. Tomorrow I will make a go at it.

It is very hard for me to make myself sit down and write. It isn't so much the writing but rather the sitting still and intensely focusing. I feel overwhelmed and the need to get it done right then--afraid that if I leave it? I may never come back to it. But the sitting still is the hardest part. It is antithetical to my nature.

Really, it is. Just ask Lala and the pediatrician who diagnosed me withADHD at age five and prescribed Ritalin for 15 years of my life. But I-- regardless of difficulty-- really think that I am suppose to be a writer. Why else would I be plagued by these people and these stories that only exist in my imagination?

And so I am going to take the lead from that same professor who once liked my title so much and write first thing in the morning like he does. He once told me that writing is one of the hardest things he does: so he does it first thing everyday-- before he does anything else. So starting tomorrow, I am promising to get up at 5 am and write for one hour before I have to get the kids up for school. I am going to try to do it every week day.

And I am writing this here because blogging about running some days is the only thing that actually gets me out that door and running. So I am hoping that if I commit here to writing a novel I will actually do it.


  1. Isn't it great that the ideas, the story is bursting to get out of you while you are running? Yea, I think that's really cool. I wrote a short story once. It was even published. I luv to read too. I'm just not much of a motivated writer. Give it a go. The story and motivation are all yours.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Gosh Ms Natalie! You really need a Suburban when there are six kids!!! Looks like a fun group.

    So...What's the title of your story? ;o)

    Can't wait to hear it...You will give us more as you write won't you?...or do we need to wait and buy the book?

    I'm up at 4:00...if you get stuck on something...No...I can't write but you can use me to bounce things off of...just be gentle!

    Seriously...Sounds good!


  4. BTW...I hear the GA ING field of 15000 runners is full! Pretty good for an inaugural race...25 days to go!

  5. Nat, I know you can do it. I have always thought you were a great storyteller, and I know that when you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want to - I am right there with you on the difficulty of making oneself sit still long enough to do it, and finding time with kids makes it even harder.

  6. Wes, Thanks for the support!
    A published story? Very cool. I have never tried to send anything off. I always think everything needs to be edited ad nausuem. Grad school will do that to you. I need to get over that but I will worry about that later.
    And yes: running and writing --they have always gone hand and hand for me. I compose in my head. If only with each footfall I could write too. How productive and prolific I would be.

  7. Charlie
    Not my Suburban. I would be a hazard on the road with anything that big. And there were 2 more kids there and another Mommy but she had to leave. That was the day of the 7 hour playdate. We go long when it is at my house. Some people just can't stick out the whole time. Melt downs and what not.
    No title but here's a hint. I am using a few lines from Sylvia's Plath's poem "Getting There" as an epigraph. It relates and supports some of the elements/themes I am working with.
    I will give what I can as write without giving too much away. I have found if I talk specifics it becomes written and there is nothing left to discover and no point in writing. Make sense?

    Yes, I saw the ING was full. Very excited. This will be my biggest marathon. OBX only had 1500 marathoners and Atlanta 800 the year I ran it. I may not find myself alone at all out there. That will be weird and not so lonely.

  8. Anne
    Thank you so much. What a nice compliment! It is so hard to write with the kids (and puppy) running madly amuck. I do have a few quiet times here and there that I can write/work it in. It is going to be so slow going and hard to see the big picture.

    Spring is going to be hard. When it is a nice day?Who wants to sit at the computer and make up a world when the one you live in is so pretty? That will be challenge.

  9. Yay Nat! Good for you on the getting up early - that is my favorite time of day. : )

    You could just write the characters and outlines on the walls of your room like Faulkner - then they couldn't escape before your return.

    And I was thinking of giving up blogging for Lent. It's already begun, but I've not decided what to do/not do.

  10. WELL FINALLY!!!!! Now the journey really begins.

  11. Steph, you know I can't very well start writing on the walls when I punish the kids when they do it.

    Maybe you should give up beer? Wait, that is pure madness. Give up chocolate.

  12. The mayor's bike ride to the capitol is soon-since you blew away Lala last year, would you like to ride "Lance" this year?

  13. I doubt I will be doing the bike ride. When is it exactly? Are you doing it? I will definitely not do it if I have to ride the mountain bike again.

    I am so out of the loop with cyclist community. They seem pretty tight.
    If they get Lance and his buddies Matt and Jake to do it then I am definitely in.